2014 Program

The following are Schools at the Festival programs at the 2014 San Francisco International Film Festival. All screenings take place at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas at 1881 Post Street (at Fillmore) in San Francisco.

To find out how to get tickets, contact Keith Zwölfer at kzwolfer@sffs.org or 415-561-5040.

Amazing Catfish
Tuesday, May 6, 12:30pm
Directed by Claudia Sainte-Luce (Mexico 2013, 89 min)
In Spanish with English subtitles
Set in Guadalajara, The Amazing Catfish follows the quiet transformation of a solitary young woman informally adopted and absorbed into a rambunctious matriarchy in a state of crisis. When solitary protagonist Claudia winds up in the hospital with appendicitis, she makes an unexpected connection with a fellow patient, single mother Martha (Lisa Owen). Martha's four children, who range in age from pre-adolescent to mostly grown, create a rowdy atmosphere in and out of the hospital, starkly contrasting with Claudia's muted existence. Confidently filmed by Claire Denis' long-time cinematographer, Agnès Godard, this spare but colorful film-set in Guadalajara and based loosely on true events from Saint-Luce's own life-embraces the inclination to define a family as the people you choose and are chosen by, not necessarily the ones you're born to.
Program Note: brief profanity, brief adult situation
Suggested Subjects: Arts/Media, Drama, Health, Latin American Studies, Middle School, Spanish, Women's Studies
Recommended Grades: 8-12   

Cesar's Last Fast
Monday, April 28, 10:15am
Directed by Lorena Parlee & Richard Ray Perez (USA 2013, 100 min)
In English and Spanish with English subtitles
In 1988, Cesar Chavez embarked on what would be his last act of protest in his remarkable life. Driven in part to pay penance for feeling he had not done enough, Chavez began his "Fast for Life," a 36-day water-only hunger strike, to draw attention to the horrific effects of unfettered pesticide use on farm workers, their families, and their communities. . Using never-before-seen footage of Chavez during his fast and testimony from those closest to him, directors Richard Ray Perez and Lorena Parlee weave together the larger story of Chavez's life, vision, and legacy.
Suggested Subjects: Ethics/Religion, History, Latin American Studies, Middle School, Social Studies
Recommended Grades: 8-12   

Monday, May 5, 10:00am
Directed by Zeresenay Berhane Mehari (Ethiopia 2014, 96 min)
In Amharic with English subtitles
In rural Ethiopia, a few hours outside of Addis Ababa, men on horseback, following local tradition, kidnap 14-year-old Hirut (Tizita Hagera) in a bid to force her to marry another villager. Her attempt to free herself from a preordained future sets off a legal firestorm in this powerful drama inspired by a true story that pits the law against an entrenched cultural mindset. Berhane Mehari captures Ethiopia's scenic beauty, as well as the ugliness of customs that endanger the lives and futures of young women. Based on a true story, Difret -the winner of audience awards at the Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals-is not only a compelling , suspenseful equal-rights saga, rife with political, cultural and legal insights, but also a hopeful, moving and provocative drama about resilience and the pursuit of justice.
Program Note: brief violence, brief profanity
Suggested Subjects: African Studies, Ethics/Religion, Middle School, Peer/Youth Issues, Social Studies, Women's Studies
Recommended Grades: 7-12        

Fed Up
Monday, April 28, 10:00am
Directed by Stephanie Soechtig (USA 2014, 90 min)
Soechtig and her creative team, including co-writer Mark Monroe and narrator and executive producer Katie Couric, trace the obesity crisis to 1977 when a new set of government dietary guidelines offered a flawed nutrition model based on calories in and calories out without taking other factors-such as the harm caused by sugar-into consideration. Using lively graphics, timely archival clips and multiple interviews, Soechtig charts how food industry politics, money and lobbying muscle have acted in concert to determine America's nutritional choices. Soechtig and Couric illustrate the effects by following three obese children as they live their daily lives, fighting an uphill battle to lose weight. A pointed, issues-oriented documentary, Fed Up makes complex science and vague politics accessible and engaging as it answers big questions regarding the food industry and shows how its influence has expanded waistlines while compromising health.
Suggested Subjects: Elementary School, Health, History, Middle School, Peer/Youth Issues, Science, Social Studies
Recommended Grades: 5-12  

Freedom Summer
Thursday, May 1, 10:00am
Directed by Stanley Nelson (USA 2013, 113 min)
Freedom Summer ushers the audience into the center of the Civil Rights conflict during the heated summer of 1964 in Mississippi, the nation's most segregated state at that time, and documents the efforts of more than 700 student volunteers who banded together with organizers and local African Americans to secure the right to vote for all US citizens. Penetrating a complicated minefield of social unrest, Freedom Summer shines a light on the many heroes of the movement, including Robert Moses and Fannie Lou Hamer, while examining widely noted events of that time: the Ku Klux Klan murders of James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Mickey Schwerner in Meridian, MS; the 1964 Democratic National Convention; and the eventual passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Freedom Summer provides poignant testimony for an imperative moment in our nation's history.
Program Note: historical footage containing brief violence
Suggested Subjects: African American Studies, Ethics/Religion, History, Journalism, Middle School, Political Science, Social Studies
Recommended Grades: 7-12  

From Fact to Fiction             *Schools at the Festival Exclusive Screening*
Thursday, May 8, 10:00am
Total running time 74 min
In English, and Russian with English subtitles
Collected from around the world, this compilation of short films explores a variety of storytelling techniques, from a documentary about the beginnings of an iconic sports gesture to an animated tale recounting the history of sound and picture in films. This collection gives students the perfect smorgasbord of all the SF International Film Festival has to offer.
Suggested Subjects: Arts/Media, English, History, Journalism, Middle School, Social Science, Social Studies
Recommended Grades: 7-12  

Wednesday, April 30, 10:30am
Directed by Thomas Balmès (France/Finland 2013, 80 min)
In Bhutanese with English subtitles
High in the snow-capped mountains of Bhutan, a mother leaves her son at a monastery to be raised as a monk. Peyangki would rather play than study, like most nine-year-old boys, and he is wont to slip away from the unpopulated cloister to turn cartwheels in his red tunic. While the wide-open outdoors is sufficient to distract the boy from the centuries-old routine of prayer and rituals, more sedentary (and, perhaps, deleterious) temptations encroach: Electricity is finally reaching the village, and with it television and the Internet. Balmès illuminates the seduction of technology-as well as its rapid encroachment-on an ancient way of life with an observant eye, reminding us how complicated and bittersweet the effects of progress can be.
Suggested Subjects: Asian Studies, Ethics/Religion, Peer/Youth Issues, Social Studies, World Affairs
Recommended Grades: 7-12                  

Havana Curveball                 *Schools at the Festival Exclusive Screening*   
Wednesday, May 7, 10:00am
Directed by Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider (USA 2014, 60 min)
In English and Spanish with English subtitles
Playing with short film The High Five
Mica is a classic young teen. Enthusiastic. Idealistic. Dreaming about baseball. At 13, he is studying for his Bar Mitzvah, the Jewish coming of age rite. An earnest kid, he took to heart his Rabbi's requirement to help "heal the world." Imagining himself a savior of sorts, he launches a grand plan to send baseball equipment to Cuba, a country with a mysterious pull. He knows only that Cubans are poor and love baseball-and that Cuba saved his grandpa's life. On a hunch, his award-winning filmmaker parents pick up their camera. They know the U.S. embargo with Cuba will throw him a curveball. The High Five The origin of the seemingly most instinctual of celebratory gestures can be traced to a spontaneous moment between Los Angeles Dodgers Dusty Baker and Glenn Burke on October 2, 1977. (Michael Jacobs, USA 2014, 10 min)
Suggested Subjects: Ethics/Religion, History, Middle School, Peer/Youth Issues, Political Science, Social Studies
Recommended Grades: 6-12   

Monday, April 28, 12:30pm
Directed by Kat Candler (USA 2014, 93 min)
A struggling father copes with the loss of his wife while blind to the emotional toll her death and his frequent absences have taken on his sons-a motocross-riding teenager and his brother, a sensitive pre-adolescent boy. Much of Hellion is familiar territory for Candler: its blue-collar Texas backdrop, the heavy metal music Jacob favors and the story of children coping with the loss of their mother. That familiarity pays off in a resonant tale of a father and son desperately trying to patch together their broken family. The drama also serves as a kind of acting clinic, as Paul delivers an emotional performance equal to his award-winning work in the acclaimed AMC drama Breaking Bad, while newcomer Wiggins makes a powerful, career-making debut.
Program Note: brief violence, profanity
Suggested Subjects: Arts/Media, Drama, English, Ethics/Religion, Peer/Youth Issues, Social Science
Recommended Grades: 9-12   

School of Babel
Tuesday, April 29, 12:15pm
Directed by Julie Bertuccelli (France 2013, 89 min)
In French with English subtitles
A remarkable and powerful film, Julie Bertuccelli's documentary details a year in the life of a Parisian class of immigrant youth from countries around the globe-boys and girls ages 11 to 15-who have come to France to seek asylum, escape hardship or simply better their lives. They are placed in a "reception class" and given intensified training in learning and speaking French, and are brought up to par in various other subjects so that they can eventually assimilate and join their peers in regular classes.  The vivid backgrounds of the students' lives-some of them heartbreaking-poignantly emerge as they bond with their teacher and each other. The honesty, innocence, intelligence, heart and pure communicativeness of these young people, as well as their frustrations and hopes for the future, offer a unique perspective on the immigrant experience in this extraordinarily touching film.
Suggested Subjects: African Studies, French, Middle School, Peer/Youth Issues, Social Science, Social Studies
Recommended Grades: 6-12   

Shorts: Family Films  **Four Showtimes**
Screening #1 - Wednesday, April 30, 10:00am
Screening #2 - Friday, May 2, 10:00am
Screening #3 - Tuesday, May 6, 10:00am
Screening #4 ­­- Monday, May 5, 10:00am
Total running time 77 min
In English and Korean with English subtitles
Travel from Kenya to Korea-and a few imaginary destinations in between-in this collection of short films for kids and families. A bear tries to find his old hat, a pig tries to make a new friend, a little girl tries to make her way through the streets of Seoul and the Oscar-winning animators of Moonbot Studios bring us two new films about making magical things: the alphabet and the movies.
Suggested Subjects: Arts/Media, Elementary School, English, Middle School, Peer/Youth Issues, Social Studies
Recommended Grades: 1-6   

Shorts: Youth Works
Thursday, May 8, 12:45pm
Total running time 71 min
In English, and Spanish with English subtitles
Today's teen filmmakers live in a media-saturated culture, with the tools to create and distribute professional quality films at their fingertips. Their technical prowess, the quality of their storytelling and their fluency in visual language give voice to stories that are fresh and innovative. Lend your ear to a new generation, and join us in celebrating today's rising talents!
Suggested Subjects: Arts/Media, Drama, English, Journalism, Peer/Youth Issues, Social Studies
Recommended Grades: 6-12   

Three Letters from China
Tuesday, April 29, 10:00am
Directed by Luc Schaedler (Switzerland 2013, 80 min)
In Mandarin with English subtitles
In the final film of his Asian trilogy, Swiss director Luc Schaedler presents three diverse, intimate and well-crafted portraits of life in contemporary China, each segment presenting an evocative and penetrating study of a different region. In the north, an elderly couple tenaciously clings to their family farm long after everyone else in the village, while their son and his wife negotiate a harsh existence in one of many grim industrial zones. An ancient rice-growing village in lush Guangxi Province in the south still struggles to heal the deep wounds inflicted during the upheaval, devastation and brutality of the Cultural Revolution.  The final segment is a captivating and unusual glimpse of life in the modern mega-city of Chongqing on the Yangtze River. On the surface, the three depictions are transfixing and exotic, yet the themes and struggles that arise are startlingly familiar:  small farmers are unable to make a living, fishermen are running out of fish to catch and families worry about job security.  Over tea in a simple Chongqing cafe, a man speaks passionately of the deepening divide between the rich and the poor, and the world seems to be shrinking as he speaks.
Program Note: brief profanity
Suggested Subjects: Asian Studies, Chinese, History, World Affairs
Recommended Grades: 9-12                                

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